On our way to El Valle de Anton we switched buses several times, each one miraculously taking us EXACTLY where we wanted to go! We decided that with all of our good luck, we had to be on un autobus de Karma... Entonces, en que nosotros saltamos!
On the last bus to the pueblo we packed in like sardines. Jason actually stood on the last step of the bus, with the door wide open behind him. As we sped around sharp corners and acsended and decended through the mountains, Jason held on for dear life, his knuckles turning white from gripping the handrails, and Mikey and my knuckles turning white from gripping his wrists to hold him in the bus.
The bus helper stood beyond Jason, outside the bus, with one hand jammed in between the open bus door and the side wall and his foot occupying a miniscule corner of the step. He was perfectly comfortable, as if he had done this a million times.
We arrived in El Valle as dusk was settling upon the sleepy little mountain town, and just as we set off to find a place to camp, a white man in an old Buick pulled up and, in English, asked if we were looking for a place to stay. We were immediately skeptical, and tried to shoo him off, but he started to tell us about himself. He owned a hotel in town called El Capitan, he said. He built it when he moved here after retiring from the German navy. Jason was immediately intrigued and struck up a conversation with him in German. He liked us, told us he had several open rooms, and that we could stay there for $10 a night. With large storm clouds forming on the horizon, we agreed, crammed in the back of his Buick, and were off to El Capitan in the Karma Buick.
We arrived at the hotel... and were amazed.
The echos of dogs barking, buses honking, mothers yelling, and a crowd cheering echo up to me from the valley below. Up here, the air is still, but for an occasional cool breeze that floats by causing the tall grasses around my hands to whisper secrets to each other. The short breezes carry away some of the thickly saturated air around me and drys, temporarily, the copious amounts of sweat from my arms. The occasional bug adds to the soft chorus below.
Upon waking, we had decided to adventure up La India Dormida - one of the mountains surrounding El Valle. The mountain is so named because it takes the shape of a sleeping woman; along those same lines the town is so named because it is in located in the valley of the mountains. This we were able to figure out before arriving at the top of La India Dormida. What we did not realize, however, was that 'the valley' was not a typical valley - it was the caldera of a once active volcano.
The trail up to the top of the mountain is covered in thick Panamanian jungle and steep slopes with brilliant, several story waterfalls crashing down them.